Last April, the US Department of Education released its first study of arts education in US schools in more than 10 years. With that data and information furnished by Portland’s six school districts, the Creative Advocacy Network brought to light a huge gap between arts education opportunities in Portland’s elementary schools and those available nationally.
With the passage of Measure 26-146 and the establishment of the groundbreaking Arts Education and Access Fund, we have taken a great stride forward in narrowing that gap. We have ensured that every elementary school student in Portland has access to certified instruction in the arts every week.
But there is still work to be done. The establishment of the Arts Education and Access Fund affords Portland with several very important opportunities that we must seize.
First we should closely study the impact of the future Arts Education and Access Fund on academic engagement and achievement, arts participation at every age and the local economy in Portland. Understanding the quantitative and qualitative impact of our investments will help us frame the ongoing conversation about the importance of arts in our schools and communities.
Second, we should share what we’ve learned nationally about the important intersection between community-based arts programs and classroom learning in the development of an arts education partnership that benefits both cities and schools.
Thirdly, we must continue to advocate for strategic investments in arts education for every public school student in our city, taking direction from the cities that do it well, from national trends and from our own local research.
Next Fall, Portland’s six school districts will start the 2013-14 school year with new sustainable funding for nearly 70 certified elementary arts instructors and every Portlander will begin to experience the impact of an increased investment in arts access for all. As we plan for this exciting expansion, we must continue to advocate for an overall approach to teaching and learning that fully integrates the power of visual art, music, dance and drama.
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